Food For Thought: An Interview With Indie Collective BNQT

Boasting members of indie royalty such as Franz Ferdinand and Grandaddy, Eric Pulido’s new project is a hugely exciting supergroup, as the BNQT frontman explains in a Q&A with Eamon Sweeney.

Eric Pulido has called his BNQT (pronounced Banquet) project “the poor man’s Traveling Wilburys.” Perhaps he protests too much, as his new band features members of Franz Ferdinand, Grandaddy, Band of Horses, Travis, and his own group, Midlake.

“It was an enormous amount of fun to make music with guys I love and respect so much,” Pulido enthuses. “A lot of the time you’re a fan of other bands, but you never get an opportunity to mix with other artists aside from festivals, and you rarely get a chance to collaborate. All I wanted to do was to ask if the guys wanted to make a musical baby together.”

Fortunately for Pulido, everybody he approached from the aforementioned cast of contemporary greats said yes. “I’d a shortlist of sorts, which came from the interaction I’d had with these artists,” he explains. “Not only did I like their music, but I also thought we’d get along well, so I sent an email out to the guys. I was blown away by such a positive response from everyone.”

Pulido hopes to tour as much with BNQT as scheduling might possibly permit. “We played at South by South West with two of the contributors and it was such a blast,” he says. “We did our songs from the album and each of our own bands’ catalogues, too. It was a lot of fun and we were like kids up there grinning from ear to ear. We’re trying to do more later in the year with some dates in Europe and the UK, and we’re hoping to include Ireland. We’ve always had such an amazing time in Ireland and Midlake have played Vicar St a few times. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it is also the home of great whiskey and beer and such amazing people. Europe has always been our second home. Our first record didn’t even come out in the States, so we started out in Europe bouncing around different pubs and venues.”

Not one to rest on his laurels, Eric is already plotting a second BNQT album. As for further Midlake projects, he can’t confirm if there will be any activity in the immediate future. Pulido assumed the role of frontman in 2012 after Tim Smith left the band, although Eric says they could work together again.

“I still hang out and talk to all the guys in Midlake all the time,” he states. “I know this sounds like I’m being coy or ambiguous, but the honest answer to the question whether we’re planning anything together or not is that I don’t know. We’re enjoying doing other things and spending time with our families, but we haven’t ruled out anything in terms of what we might or might not do. This is very healthy because we’ve never really done that with Midlake before. We’re in a good place where the ship is in the dock, so we’ll pull it out when we want.”

Since Midlake formed in 1999, the musical landscape has changed unrecognisably. “When we started out it was a dream to think I could quit my day job and play music,” he says. “The harsh reality for any mid-level artist or musician is that you have to stay busy and you have to really work it like it is a day job. I know it doesn’t sound sexy, but you have to monetise it to pay the bills and support your family. The dynamic nature of doing other projects, solo work and playing shows, is a lot of fun, but it is also very productive. You need to make something of real quality that’s sincere and authentic. Then, the rest of it will take care of itself. As I get older and have a family, I want to keep enjoying those things. You can’t be blasé thinking you’re an artist that just exists. You have to work hard.”

BNQT Volume 1 is out now on Bella Union.

 

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